With the announcement that the mid-year examinations across all Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore will be scrapped from the year 2023, the ever-simmering debate whether exams benefit or disadvantage students is once again in the spotlight. Many parents, educators and students have jumped into the fray, putting forth their opinions about where this policy might eventually lead. To some, exams are gatekeepers to further stages of education, tracking every student’s academic progress systematically. And then there are others who counter argue that exams only serve to fuel anxiety in students. They believe that learning becomes a chore because exams are a killjoy for self-exploration and curiosity. By removing mid-year exams from the picture, students can focus more on their learning and less on marks.
Where do enrichment centres feature in this raging debate? No doubt, parents and students alike look up to enrichment centres to bridge the learning gaps. In the absence of a school’s mid-year exams that are generally indicative of these learning gaps, questions arise about the contribution of enrichment centres to a learner’s growth.
‘Teach less, learn more’- a mantra that will better engage students and prepare them for the real world. How is it so? Enrichment centres, which have the advantage of smaller classroom size as compared to mainstream schools, can embrace new teaching approaches or tweak existing ones that previously appeared inconceivable due to time constraint. This is in response to the changing education landscape over the years. Collaborative learning is one such learning wherein students engage in discussions in pairs or small groups to investigate the subject matter. Instead of teaching, facilitating these group discussions becomes the point of focus. The benefits are two-pronged. Not only does collaborative learning improve student participation and promote critical thinking skills, but it also boosts soft skills like cooperation, oral communication and adaptability. Enrichment centres can thus get transformed into vibrant learning portals to nurture emotional as well as academic intelligence. With the teacher taking a backseat, learning takes a leap.
Are exams the only assessment tool for students? Success stories of several individuals have shown that being exam-smart alone does not equate learning. What we need to cultivate in every student is the drive to continually learn, unlearn and relearn endlessly. Do exams instill that spirit? Not always! Many a time, an ‘assessment’ or ‘exam’ evokes so much dread and anxiety in examinees that these students may not truly reveal their grasp of the concepts when their knowledge is put to test. They perceive ‘assessment’ as a tool that teachers use to judge their inadequacies rather than check their understanding. To alleviate this kind of stress, enrichment centres can opt for regular age-appropriate reviews that can take any form, be they quizzes or concept maps or crosswords. From these reviews, there is clarity on what the students know or don’t know. All of this goes to help modify the learning strategies that meet the students at their level. By rolling out stress-free reviews from time to time, students get to self-reflect and assess their learning needs to move forward. With support from teachers, they strengthen their foundation and continue building on it. Over time, students beef up their confidence to rise up to the occasion when the situation demands. To go one step further, these ‘assessments’ can go beyond academics and embrace soft skills like public speaking and presentations too.
Enrichment centres have their tasks cut out for them. To encourage consistency and avoid last-minute scramble, enrichment centres can utilise the time to pace their program to
The recent policy to scrap mid-year exams is here to stay. There is no better time than now for the enrichment centres to take a step back and recalibrate their learning programs. Sky’s the limit if one aims for change!
Write Edge continues to evolve by adopting student-centric curriculum in its Writing classes and English tuition across all its branches, including North East. At Write Edge, teachers guide students to explore and imbibe a love of the English language. Periodically, students reflect on their absorption of core skills through short review questions and quizzes. To fill in any learning gaps, sufficient measures are taken in the best interest of students.
If you wish to find out more about the English and Writing programmes at Write Edge, parents can reach out to us to arrange a trial class to find out more.